Student thanks donors for Taos opportunities
Doel Reed Center for the Arts
Roxanne Beason participated in the class "The Science of Art" last July at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts. Beason enjoyed her experience so much that she wrote the following letter to thank the donors who made her experience possible. She agreed to let us share it as a reminder of the opportunities the Reed Center's supporters create for dozens of students every year.
Studying the scientific processes and materiality of art and painting in Taos was nothing short of incredible. The breathtaking mountain views and rich culture and history make New Mexico one of the most enchanting and inspiring places to learn about the process of artmaking. Not only did the Frank and Louise Nash Endowed Scholarship allow me to formally learn about the molecular compounds that make up different paints, pigments and art mediums, but I also had the opportunity to learn how to create art materials using local plants and resources.
Emphasizing painting, Smith Holt began the first week by teaching us how to build a painting from scratch, utilizing the techniques of the old masters while simultaneously learning the scientific reasoning and chemical makeup of each step. We did things such as preparing the stretcher and canvas, heating rabbit-skin glue and adding marble dust to gesso the canvas in preparation for the pigments that we had prepared through mixing organic compounds, using filtration and grinding the pigment for various medium usages. Visiting artist Megan Singleton spent a day showing us the scientific processes and breakdown of materials in the art of papermaking. From start to finish, she guided us and we made paper from the plants that we gathered—which gave us something handcrafted and reminiscent of our experience here in Taos.
After a weekend exploring Taos, the second week of class offered more time to examine paint mediums and materials. Professor Holt wanted us to experiment with painting on different surfaces using mediums such as encaustic, casein, egg tempura, acrylic and oil. His colleague and art conservator, Victoria Montana Ryan, gave us a presentation on art conservation and the process of her own scientific analysis. Then we investigated older paintings she brought for damage and flaws in materials. One afternoon, we walked to the studio of a local Santero, Gustavo Victor Goler. Knowing the importance of age-old traditions and materiality in the creation of his beautiful imagery of Catholic saints, Goler was kind enough to take us through his artistic practices as a traditional wood carver and Santero. On our final day of class, we toured the amazing Earthships with the English class. Later, we had a lecture from Professor Cristina Gonzales about Spanish colonial art, New Mexican art history and painted fakes and forgeries.
Thank you for this opportunity to take the Science of Art course. I had a wonderful time in that beautiful place and I will never look at a painting the same way again. I hope this class is offered again in the future so that others can learn some basics of art conservation.
Art History, December 2016
If you are interested in making a gift to support scholarships at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, contact Deb Engle at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 385-5600.